NFL

Steelers activate Smith-Schuster for Chiefs showdown

By Sports Desk January 16, 2022

The Pittsburgh Steelers have activated wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster off injured reserve ahead of their playoff showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Smith-Schuster has not played since Week 5, when he suffered what was thought to have been a season-ending shoulder injury against the Denver Broncos.

After recovering from surgery, he is expected to play at least some part against the Chiefs in the Wild Card round game on Sunday after practising on Thursday and Friday.

"God answered my prayers and I've recovered from my season-ending shoulder injury earlier than expected," Smith-Schuster wrote on Twitter.

"I can't believe I get another chance to take the field with this team and play in a playoff game to keep our season alive."

Kansas City beat Pittsburgh at home in Week 16, 36-10, their largest win over the Steelers in 36 all-time meetings.

The Steelers go in as heavy underdogs against the Chiefs, though they received a further boost when running back Najee Harris was removed from the injury report after recovering from an elbow injury.

This could be Smith-Schuster's last game with the Steelers given he is due to enter free agency after the season, while eyes are also on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to retire after the playoffs.

"He had a pretty significant injury," Roethlisberger told 102.5 WDVE this week about the receiver's possible return.

"The way JuJu plays the game is physical. We all know it. We all love it. He could boost this offense. Even if it's just a few plays, the energy, the encouragement he brings on the sideline. 

"Anything like that, to have one of your guys out there would be huge for us."

Roethlisberger has thrown for 970 yards in his last two postseason games, both losses. That is the most passing yards by any player in a span of two playoff games. 

The veteran will face off against Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes.

Chiefs QB Mahomes has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions in his two Super Bowl appearances, but in his six other playoff games, he has thrown 15 touchdown passes and no picks. 

Per Stats Perform data, Mahomes is just the second player ever (after Drew Brees) with 17+ passing touchdowns and no more than four interceptions in his first eight playoff starts.

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